#rememberedpoetryslam good vibes for all! Photo by Mark Adrian on Unsplash
I’ll tell you who the winner of the First Remembered Poetry Slam for 2018 is in a minute, but first, let me share a story involving Love, Failure and Resolve.
I fell in love with an idea (which I’m prone to do, but this one was just so great) called the Remembered Poetry Slam.
HEAD OVER HEELS BECAUSE IT WAS JUST THAT GOOD
I’d been thinking about hosting this event for some time, encouraged by the response I received when I posted the query, “Did you have to memorize a poem in school?” Several people commented that they recalled poems, and even typed a few stanzas of them. I took this as a sign, and Eureka! The idea struck. “Why not have folks share those memorized poems in a video!? There would be shared satisfaction with that literary art flying hither and yon on Facebook. How could it not warm hearts and encourage recitations to be recorded one after another?
I admit, I suffer from, “if I build it they will come” syndrome. I considered this event of sharing poetry so catchy and cool that surely people would jump in to record videos and, perhaps like wildfire (the good kind), the slam would ignite across social media.
The premise seemed simple. People spot the Remembered Poetry Slam on FB event or catch the post on our website. Readers find the idea delightful so they rush in droves to post their remembered poems along with the hashtag #rememberedpoetryslam. It was going to be B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L.
I even added a charitable piece, offering to donate money on behalf of the winner to the Iowa Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. The concept of memory and Alzheimer’s go together, and this seemed a great way to help spread awareness for them as well.
In the early days of November, riding on the euphoria of a great idea, I posted the event on Facebook to run from November 19th through the 29th and wrote a post to my website. I contacted all the Meetup groups that were noted for their interest in poetry, asked good, kind FB friends to share the event and even reached out to celebrities (because you never know)!
I envisioned Thanksgiving day tables everywhere with people gathered and inspired by the magic of the Remembered Poetry Slam. When nobody could take one more bite, someone would ask Aunt Myrtle or Gramps if they memorized poetry as a kid, and soon conversation and hilarity would take over. Uncle Bob would leap up to recite a poem, and then Grandma would chime in with hers. Then the someone who started all the poetry flying would say, “Let’s record you reciting that poetry for a video to enter the Remembered Poetry Slam.” Aunt Myrtle, known to be especially theatrical, would jump up to demonstrate her elocution talents. She’d call for her closeup, and so a star would be born.
REALITY… THINGS TO PONDER FOR 2019
The throngs did not arrive. But on the evening of November 19, which was launch day, we did have a lovely gathering to get things started. Thanks to those good souls (friends and an unsuspecting family) we gathered for Remembered Poetry Slam and recorded some poetry (and had a good conversation about what constitutes poetry—but more on that in a moment). A special hug of appreciation goes to the Iowa Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association for seeing the potential in the Remembered Poetry Slam and for sharing their beautiful video.
Now that I’ve laid out the backdrop, the suspense can be abated. The winner of this first Remembered Poetry Slam is … Iowa State Professor Emeritus William Boon. He told the story of Elmer and the bear, a piece which requires the audience to call back and repeat a chorus. Check out the presentation here:
WHAT IS POETRY?
I’m certainly not the expert, but we came up with useful guidelines the other night for what can be considered poetry for next year. The primary Webster’s Dictionary definition is what we settled on – “Literary work in which special intensity is given to the expression of feelings and ideas by the use of distinctive style and rhythm.”
Music is the most obvious example. Lyrics are poetry.
Did you once memorize a monologue or some sonnets of Shakespeare? You know poetry! How about nursery rhymes? If you remember nursery rhymes, then you know poetry. Here is our version of Humpty Dumpty.
Reflections for next year and how to better promote this event abound, but I’m open to suggestions. I hadn’t given people a list of all the possible poetry ideas, so that might have helped.
Perhaps my instructions as to how to submit poetry weren’t clear. And, of course, reach is always an issue. I have a small audience and somehow need to reach beyond that—perhaps with targeted ads?
Of course, the biggest roadblock and misstep was not finding the tribe for whom poetry and a bit of performance flair are fun and engaging ideas.
In my best “Terminator” voice I raise my fist to the sky and shout, “We’ll be back!” We will run the Remembered Poetry Slam in 2019. However, before then I’ll do some homework and engage with some experts…and potential Remembered Poetry tribespeople. If you have ideas as to where they might be, please let me know.
In the meantime, congrats to Bill Boon! A donation will be given in your name to the Iowa Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
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